These educational programs aim to increase awareness of the benefits home food production, food systems, and locally grown foods.
More specifically, this SLM focuses on teaching the skills and knowledge required for growing food, managing community gardens, and contributing to food banks and kitchens. These programs also look at broad topics, such as the intricate nature of food systems and their relationship and importance in our day to day life. Health–related issues such as obesity and diabetes are also addressed through the program.
Examples of how Master Gardeners are employing the Environmental Stewardship Education program throughout the commonwealth:
Unit – Fluvanna County Master Gardeners
Project – Plant a Row Project
Description – Master Gardeners and Community Garden members grow produce in garden plots, specifically to donate a Fluvanna food bank. Plant-A-Row (PAR) volunteers spend time and labor in the spirit of ‘Local and Fresh’, so individuals needing food assistance have access to local, fresh produce. PAR celebrates the harvest with the local community.
Unit – Tazewell County Master Gardeners
Description– Tazewell County Master Gardeners have offered several workshops, including Apple Grafting and Fruit Tree Pruning. These workshops address issues in food safety and help local residents to preserve some of their favorite trees, to increase the variety in their orchards and home gardens, or to start their own home fruit production.
Unit – Northern Virginia Master Gardeners
Project– Community Garden “Coaches”
Description– The “Community Garden Coaches” project designed to train and match-up MGNV volunteers with selected local community gardens. The goals of the program are to increase access to nutritious foods, counteract and prevent obesity, promote health and nutrition, and to encourage physical activity. Many of these gardens are located at condominiums, apartment complexes, housing shelters, and transitional housing sites.